A recent report by the U.S. Naval War College details the development of Sansha City, China's military-civilian effort to expand its claims to the South China Sea. "Sansha City was founded by China in 2012 and is the world’s largest city by area, covering 800,000 square miles of the South China Sea within the 'nine-dash line' that China claims for itself. That makes it 1,700 times the size of New York City. Most of Sansha City is salt water, although it includes the Paracel Islands, which Vietnam and Taiwan claim, and the Spratly Islands, various of which are claimed by Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei. City Hall, so to speak, is on Woody Island, one of the Paracels. 'Once a remote outpost, Woody Island has become a bustling hub of activity,' says the 57-page, heavily footnoted report, which was written by China expert Zachary Haver for the War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute. 'The island now boasts expanded port infrastructure, seawater desalination and sewage treatment facilities, new public housing, a functioning judicial system, 5G network coverage, a school, and regular charter flights to and from the mainland.' Beyond Woody Island, Sansha City is 'developing tourism in the Paracel Islands, attracting hundreds of newly registered companies, cultivating aquaculture, and encouraging long-term residency,' the report says. There are jails and a courthouse, where two people were tried and sentenced for buying and transporting endangered wildlife in the Spratly Islands. ... Sansha City, just nine years old, is evidence that China is settling in for a long stay. ... 'Through Sansha’s system of normalized administrative control, China is gradually transforming contested areas of the South China Sea into de facto Chinese territory.'"
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